Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) based microparticles (MPs) are widely investigated for their ability to load a range of molecules with high efficiency, including antigenic proteins, and release them in a controlled manner. Micron-sized PLGA MPs are readily phagocytosed by antigen presenting cells, and localized to endosomes. Due to low pH and digestive enzymes, encapsulated protein cargo is largely degraded and processed in endosomes for MHC-II loading and presentation to CD4+ T cells, with very little antigen delivered into the cytosol, limiting MHC-I antigenic loading and presentation to CD8+ T cells. In this work, PLGA was blended with poly(2-propylacrylic acid) (PPAA), a membrane destabilizing polymer, in order to incorporate an endosomal escape strategy into PLGA MPs as an easily fabricated platform with diverse loading capabilities, as a means to enable antigen presentation to CD8+ T cells. Ovalbumin (OVA)-loaded MPs were fabricated using a water-in-oil double emulsion with a 0% (PLGA only), 3 and 10% PPAA composition. MPs were subsequently determined to have an average diameter of 1 µm, with high loading and a release profile characteristic of PLGA. Bone marrow derived dendritic cells (DCs) were then incubated with MPs in order to evaluate localization, processing, and presentation of ovalbumin. Endosomal escape of OVA was observed only in DC groups treated with PPAA/PLGA blends, which promoted high levels of activation of CD8+ OVA-specific OT-I T cells, compared to DCs treated with OVA-loaded PLGA MPs which were unable activate CD8+ T cells. In contrast, DCs treated with OVA-loaded PLGA MPs promoted OVA-specific OT-II CD4+ T cell activation, whereas PPAA incorporation into the MP blend did not permit CD4+ T cell activation. These studies demonstrate PLGA MP blends containing PPAA are able to provide an endosomal escape strategy for encapsulated protein antigen, enabling the targeted delivery of antigen for tunable presentation and activation of either CD4+ or CD8+ T cells.
Keywords: PLGA; PPAA; dendritic cells; endosomal escape; immunotherapy; intracellular delivery; pH‐responsive polymer; polymer blend.